School is out and summer vacation is upon us! We can hardly wait to dip our toes in the sand and water. Yet for families with Seniors, they may be feeling they want things to slow down just a little, as this momentous occasion—the end of high school and all that entails—swiftly approaches!

At least 4 things are happening next week that Senior families should know about:
• May 31, Graduation Practice (9 am at LASA)
• May 31, Senior Salute (7 pm at Riverbend Center)
• June 1, Graduation (2 pm at Burger Center)
• June 1, Project Graduation (10 pm at East Communities YMCA)

Senior families—you can find more info here


At our final PFLASA meeting for this school year, I told everyone that I had just found out that this blog had not been going to most subscribers for the entire spring semester! Gah!!

I believe the glitch was fixed. You can check out what you missed here:

I also gave a brief report on Tutoring. We had more than 420 student engagements (the number of times a student signed in for tutoring) this year as of the end of classes. Physics and Chemistry were just about equal in usage and represented the majority of engagements. Algebra 2 and Biology had far fewer. We know that our numbers are likely under-counted, as some students forget to sign in. PFLASA will continue to assess the needs and program approach for next year with respect to tutoring. I am happy to say we have had several parents step up to volunteer to help manage this program next year. Thank you – you know who you are!!!

PFLASA will be moving to the portable by the tennis courts. The move will take place over the summer. Check with our incoming President, Nicole Truelock, with any questions about the process.

And now it’s time for the THANK YOUS!!

First, a HUGE Thank You to this year’s Board Members. Serving on the board is quite a commitment!
• Diana Hubbard, our Treasurer, who will continue as Assistant Treasurer next year and therefore serve for 2 more years.
• Randi Bell, our Assistant Treasurer, who will officially become Treasurer.
• Lisa Lyons, our Grants Committee Chair who also helped with insurance and contract-related matters. She will continue to serve.
• Lori Wallace, our Grants Committee Vice Chair (and a former PFLASA President); she has also been on the PTSA board this year – whew! What a dedicated volunteer! She will continue to serve also.
• Elizabeth Bomba, our Secretary, who is leaving the board for now, but she plans to be back! Thank you so much for your 2 years of service, Elizabeth!
• Tammi Schroeder, our Assistant Secretary, who will become Secretary.
• Nicole Truelock, our VP and incoming President.
• Thank you, also, to Vijay Raghav and Ellen Stewart-Klein, our two new board members who are already ramping up for next year.

We had many volunteers over the year, many chairs, co-chairs, leads and shadows. It is probably impossible to name every person, but I want to recognize the following folks who led events or worked throughout the year on multiple things.

Olga Ovcharenko, who did a great job with all the hospitality events, including the recent 2 weeks of AP breakfasts and snacks!

Mena Ramon, who is chairing Project Graduation (still a work in progress)—It’s going to be awesome!

Kristy Kelly (Neff), who pulled off Coffeehouse AGAIN, even with the switch of venues. This was her 4th Coffeehouse! And Meenaa Gopalsamy and Emily Robson, who took care of ticket sales for the event.

Nalini Kumar and Elise Su, who organized Senior Salute and brought us into a brand-new venue – Riverbend Center! Nalini was also a huge help with AP Breakfast and Snacks, by being there most afternoons.

Nina Miller, who re-invigorated our Wellness Committee and got a bunch of new initiatives off the ground.

Jayne Rosso and Emily Robson, who ran the fall mentoring program (the program that helps applicants to LASA), which was especially challenging this year when the deadlines for applications were compressed.

Virginia Jones and Bharathi Jana, who took care of our recruiting events this year, and helped transition the “Roadshows” to LASA-based events.

Lina Porras and Cristina Hernandez, who led our Latino Outreach Committee and organized multiple activities for Latino LASA families.

Rebecca Cook, who chaired our holiday “Giving Thanks Pie” Event in November.

Kristin Davis, who ran our No Hassle Fundraiser in the fall and has continued to research other fundraising models we might use to help LASA fund staffing shortages.

Ami Cortes-Castillo, who chaired the Project Graduation Auction, and the many parents who helped with the auction, hosted Happy Hours throughout the year and supported other aspects of fundraising.

There were also many parents who helped with various appreciation events, including Sarah Romo de Vivar, Claire Hobbs, Meggan Carcasi, Christal Hood-McDonald, Belinda Roberts, Kristin Benton, Jerry Haddican. Special thanks to Nicole Truelock, who handled the teacher gifts and the luncheon for teachers and staff. Thanks also to Brandy Smallwood and Randi Bell who helped coordinated the appreciation events. Brandy also made and donated many of her beautiful balloon creations!

Many other folks work behind the scenes and every single contribution is valued! To name a few, a huge thank you to:
Care Firestone, our PFLASA webmaster, who made sure our ticket sales and donations could be done online and provided other web edits and assistance.
Nicole Basham – editor of the LOL Newsletter and Karina Goulet, who along with Yolanda Torres, headed up the Spanish translation team for the Newsletter.

No list is complete without thanking and acknowledging our LASA Webmaster, Geeta Suggs, who does SO MUCH communication to help everyone stay organized and provides a lot of the current leadership and structure for the PFLASA parent class representatives groups, and much more. For instance, Geeta organized our recent stressbuster – popsicles for the students on the last day of regular classes. Fun!!!

A SPECIAL and HUGE Thank You to parents who hosted our New Teacher Bus Tour last summer (Karen Rooff and Meghan Riley) and the many parents who mentored 8th grade LASA applicants in the fall and who volunteered to be hall and bathroom monitors during AP exams this spring. We also have many junior parents (and some senior parents and parents from other classes) signed up to help with the upcoming Project Graduation event. Thanks in advance, y’all!

Even with all of these acknowledgements, I am sure I have not even covered every group or event. PFLASA does a LOT of stuff! :). We also know that there are so many parents who can’t chair or serve on a committee, but who show up to work at events when they can, or donate food and supplies, or lend their knowledge, time and expertise in other ways. Each and every contribution is vital. THANK YOU!


Don’t forget about the awesome Book Clubs for new students hosted by Ms. Switek. More information can be found here. Dates are June 15, July 9 and July 23.

Planning for Next Year (Things that happen in July and August)

Avert your eyes if you don’t want to think about next year yet (I don’t blame you!) 🙂
But these dates can sneak up, so it’s a good idea to put them on your calendar now.

Taking Care of Business Early (for students) — TCBE is the opportunity for your student to come by the school and get what he or she needs to start the year off right. They happen this year on Tuesday July 25, Wednesday July 26, Wednesday August 2 and Thursday August 3. You can come any of these days. Keep an eye out for more details.

First Day of SchoolAugust 14

Fixing a Glitch!

Hello Parents! I just found out that many of you who subscribed to the PFLASA President’s Blog have not been receiving the posts all Spring. There have been 5 posts published since January 11, counting this past Tuesday! So we are trying to “fix the glitch” and see if we can get this post to go to all who have subscribed.

If you have missed receiving these, they are all posted here ( Just keep scrolling down.

We are so sorry about this and the information you may have missed out on!


Best regards,


PFLASA President, 2022-23

Celebration Season Is Here

What We’ve Been Up To

Coffeehouse 2023 was a smashing success. Even though we had to pivot due to a bad weather forecast and re-locate the venue from the American Legion—as originally planned—to LASA’s Large Gym (Big Stage) and Cafeteria (Small Stage), it all went incredibly well. We have so many volunteers and teachers and staff to thank for putting on this amazing show, with Committee Chair Kristy Kelly and English teacher Corey Snyder at the top of the list.

Advanced Placement (AP) Exams

Two weeks of intensive activity around AP Exams has concluded. Many parents served as hall and bathroom monitors for students who were placed in the gym, theater, library, and other locations to take their 4-hour exams. PFLASA provided breakfast tacos each morning and snacks each morning and afternoon for test takers. We hope everyone can relax a bit now as we slide into the home stretch of school year 2022-23

Teacher Appreciation

PFLASA honored teachers with a Spring Picnic-themed luncheon on May 16 in the library. A delicious time was had by all and we thank all the parents who donated food items and helped serve and clean up. Nicole Truelock, our current VP and soon-to-be PFLASA President, was the master planner (and implementer) behind this lovely luncheon as well as the teacher appreciation gift deliveries we did on May 2nd. We LOVE our teachers and staff!!!

What’s Coming Up

Tutoring During Finals

We will have tutoring during Final’s Week from 12:30 to 2:30 on Monday-Wednesday, May 22, 23 and 24 in the tutoring space adjacent to the library. We plan to offer Chemistry and Algebra 2 on all 3 days, and Biology on Monday and Tuesday. Changes or updates will be posted on Blend and included in the daily announcements. Since there are no late buses during this week, be sure to make arrangements for students staying after school.

Senior Salute

Senior Salute is coming on May 31. This is a special program for Seniors held the night before graduation. This year it will be at Riverbend Center. Congratulations to the class of 2023 – they are almost there!

Project Graduation

Project Graduation is another tradition for LASA Seniors. It will once again be held at the YMCA on the night of graduation (June 1st).  We are trying a few things differently this year, mainly how kiddo pickup will work. Information is already out to Senior families about how students can purchase tickets and other details.

Summer Book Clubs

Our wonderful librarian Ms. Switek is putting on three book club events this summer on the LASA campus for new LASA students.  The featured book is Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson.  Find out more and sign up here.  Club meetings will be held three times:

  • Thursday, June 15 from 10 am
  • Sunday, July 9 from 3-4 pm
  • Sunday, July 23 from 3-4 pm

PFLASA must do a Financial Reconciliation each summer, usually in July. Thank you to those who have already offered to help. We will reach out again if we need more volunteers.

Looking Way Ahead

Taking Care of Business Early—(TCBE) happens for students before the school year starts. Watch for information about exact dates and times. This is the opportunity for your student to pick up books, get a locker assigned and more.

New Teacher Bus Tour—PFLASA will be looking for parent volunteers to help with the New Teacher Bus Tour – a chance for newly hired teachers to meet parents and kids and get acclimated to the large range from which students travel to attend LASA.  We usually recruit parents to come to the breakfast stop (held at a parent’s house) and we recruit two LASA families in two areas of town to host the breakfast and the lunch. Interested in helping? Contact us at president at pflasa dot org.

Stay tuned for one more President’s Blog post for school year 2022-23! We are almost there!


It’s Getting Real!

Hey LASA families—it’s getting real! We are halfway through April and the year will be over before you know it! For Senior families, it’s almost time to get your hankies out and smart phones ready to capture those moments in pictures! For the rest, hang in there! You are heading for the home stretch of school year 22-23!

AP Exams
May is an intense month at LASA and the first two weeks are heavily affected by AP exams. This year, LASA will administer 30 different exams to more than 1,000 students. Many students take multiple exams during this period and many take two on the same day. Hundreds of students are testing on most days, with the highest volume day this year being May 11th, when almost 700 exams will be given between the morning and afternoon sessions!

The entire testing endeavor, which is managed and supervised by Assistant Principal San Czaplinski, requires lots of planning and logistics. For instance, test administration affects the use of space within the school, as Ms. Czaplinski may need to utilize the gym, library, and various conference rooms for testing. At the same time, while many students are testing, many more are going about their normal class routines.

Parent volunteers are also key to the success of this effort, as they serve as monitors during the testing sessions. Dozens of parent volunteers will be needed over the 2-week period. In addition, PFLASA organizes and serves snacks for students in the morning and midday, to help them keep their energy and brain power flowing! If you would like to help with monitoring or with the food, be looking for sign-up sheets here. Need information about the schedule of exams? Check out this link for that info and more.

Finally, I should not leave this subject without saying that PFLASA has provided a substantial subsidy this year (more than in prior years) to make the costs of these exams more reasonable for LASA families. At approximately $100 per exam, and with many students having 4 or more AP classes in any given year, the fees add up fast, which can be a lot for any family’s budget. As we prepare our budget for next year, we will be considering how much PFLASA can contribute to this program for school year 23-24.

We mark the end of all this hard work with Coffeehouse, a beloved LASA tradition, on the evening of Friday, May 12. Our amazing parent volunteer—Kristy Kelly—is running the event again this year. We are so thankful for her leadership. Coffeehouse is a special night that showcases the many talents of our students and kicks off a period of celebrations which will culminate for graduating Seniors in Senior Salute (May 31) and Project Graduation (June 1). Of course, there are still final exams to get through (given over a period of half days from May 22-25) and final projects, etc. for students to submit. But just about everyone is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel by the time Coffeehouse rolls around!

PFLASA is hosting a Teacher Appreciation lunch in May as well. Nicole Truelock, our current PFLASA VP and incoming President for 23-24, is organizing this event. Stay tuned for more details on how you can help. May is also the month in which we appreciate and recognize our School Nurse.

I would like to take one more opportunity to congratulate Nina Miller and her team on the Wellness Committee for the many wonderful opportunities they have presented to our LASA families this year. A recorded version of the presentation on nutrition, held at the school on March 2, is now available through April 25, here.

There will be a viewing of “Screenagers: Next Chapter” at a parent’s home on April 16 (already full) and a presentation on “Strategies for Building Life Skills in Teens” on April 27 at 7 pm at the school. Sign up here to rsvp for the Life Skills presentation.

As I alluded to above, the PFLASA board is in the process of reviewing expenditures for this year and working on proposing a new budget for school year 23-24. We have tentatively scheduled a meeting to take comments and questions about our draft proposed budget on May 2, at 8:15, at LASA. We plan to present and call for approval of the new budget at our final meeting of the year on May 19. Anyone with an interest in learning more about the budget for next year should plan to attend on May 2 if possible. We will publicize the details of this meeting in the usual places when the place and time have been confirmed.

New PFLASA Board Members, Committee Chairs, and Volunteers
We are also excited to share that we have two fabulous folks who have stepped up to fill our vacant board positions. Stay tuned for a formal announcement after we elect them at our April 28 PLFASA meeting.

Many of our committees have great leadership and continuity already built in, with folks who are shadowing this year and can take over next year. One exception is our tutoring/study groups program. I have been filling in for the spring semester, but we would love a chair or 2 co-chairs to volunteer to take it on for next year. Contact me at president at pflasa dot org if you would like to learn more.

In addition, if you like numbers and financial records, we will need 3 volunteers over the summer to review our “books”. This is a yearly requirement for us a non-profit. Reach out to me if you are interested in learning more. We would prefer to have our volunteers lined up before the last school bell rings!

There will be plenty of other ways to volunteer and contribute – please make sure you are subscribed to the Parent Class/Grade Level Google Groups for your student(s), the Lots of LASA Newsletter, the PFLASA Facebook Group and continue to check out the Volunteer SignUps page on the main LASA website (under Quick Links) to stay informed!

Enjoy this beautiful Spring weather!

Say “Hello” to the last 9 weeks of school year 2022-23!

Welcome back! I hope everyone had a nice Spring Break! Have you had a chance to check out the bluebonnets and other wildflowers starting to emerge? Above are some evening primroses I snapped at the Southwest Greenway at Mueller today.

It is hard to believe we are three-quarters of the way through this school year, and the last quarter promises to go quickly! Spring is full of testing and celebration, so buckle up and enjoy!!

Here are some updates and announcements from PFLASA.

We have finalized our venue for this year’s Senior Salute—Riverbend Center on N Capital of Texas Highway! This is a special night for Seniors, which happens on the night before graduation. It will be May 31st this year. Many thanks to the organizing committee (Elise Su, Nalina Kumar, Geeta Suggs) and all the other folks who helped make this happen!

Coffeehouse is coming up on May 12th, which is the last day of AP Exams! Committee Chair Kristy Neff would love a parent to shadow her this year in running this fun and amazing event. Please reach out at “president at pflasa dot org” if you are interested!

Speaking of AP Exams, Assistant Principal San Czaplinski will be at our next PFLASA meeting (Friday March 24th) to tell us about that very subject and answer your questions. Join us!

We now have Biology tutors in place, along with tutors for Physics, Chemistry and Algebra 2. Please encourage your students to take advantage of the help. Some things to know:

* The tutors are generally there from 4-6 pm, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, in a room adjacent to the library. Look for the signs!
* Our current Physics tutor is graduating from UT and his last day with us will be May 5th. If we find another tutor who can pitch in and help out through finals, we will let you know. In the meantime, let your students know to utilize his talents early and often!
* We expect to have coverage in the other three subjects through final exams.
* It is always a good idea for students to check the LASA Student Support page for the official schedule (and any permanent updates) here. Last minute cancellations are posted on Blend and the LASA Life App.

The Wellness Committee, headed up by Nina Miller, is hosting a Zoom Cooking Class for Parents and Kids on Sunday April 2nd @ 5:30pm. Chef Avashia will guide you through parent-tested and teen-approved recipes for Cucumber-Pineapple Gazpacho and Sweet Potato-Bean Stuffed Peppers! You can get more details and sign up here. You will receive the Zoom link and ingredient list prior to the class.

April appreciations will recognize our wonderful librarian, Elizabeth Switek (April 4th), our incredible support staff including Monique Redfield, Jo Koerth, Karen Foree, Karina Pressler, Claudia Villarreal, Elaine Thompson, Adela SiFuentes, and Cindy Dwinells (April 26th), AND our amazing assistant principals—San Czaplinski, Andy Paulson, and Jessica Cherry (April 5th). Appreciation activities for teachers and our principal, Stacia Crescenzi, are in May according to the official AISD Recognition Calendar. But we start recognizing them in April as well, because May is such a crazy month. PFLASA has appreciation activities in the works for all these folks, but please feel free to chime in in any way you would like, and let them know you appreciate them. [NOTE: In case you are wondering, some of the support staff listed on the LASA faculty and staff list under Support Staff have been/will be honored at other times of the year. We ensure that everyone is included in yearly appreciations.]

Finally, I would like to once again mention that volunteers are the lifeblood of PFLASA. We need new folks to serve on our PFLASA Board, and folks to shadow and then take over running committees in the coming year. Many commitments are for 2 years. Check out our list of committees here and reach out to me and our soon-to-be new PFLASA president (Nicole Truelock), at “president at pflasa dot org”. Nicole will take the reins July 1st!

Spring May Have Sprung

Ice Storm
Since I wrote my last post (see it here), we missed FOUR days of school due to ice and power outages (from Jan 31 through Feb 3) and many folks were out of power for at least part of that week. Some were out much longer. It was a trying time for many families as well as for teachers and staff. However, we seem to have recovered with grace and, with the springtime weather out there, it now seems a distant memory.

New Parent Coffees News
Also because of the power outages, some deadlines associated with the new student application process were extended. This undoubtedly caused additional angst for some families waiting to hear. It also caused us to scramble a bit, because we had our New Parent Coffees scheduled for Feb 11. But as it turned out, many parents did not know by then if their student had been accepted, so we turned that into our Coffees for Parents of LASA Applicants and followed it up with a Newly Accepted Families Informal Coffee on Feb 18th, which we had at Easy Tiger at the Linc. Between the two events, we had a great turnout and answered A LOT of questions. A huge shout out to Geeta Suggs who helped organize both and to all the parent volunteers who came. A special thanks to those who came out to both events, giving up time on two Saturdays in a row! These include: Geeta Suggs, Nicole Truelock, Jayne Rosso, Karen Roof, David Buldoc, Lindsay Rose-Arellano, Lorena Lauv, and Becky Strandwitx. Please forgive me if I missed any one! Many thanks also to parents who donated food for our Feb 11th event at the school. It was so much appreciated.

Another opportunity is coming up on Saturday, March 4 to engage with and help new parents and new students. It’s called the Elective Fair and Choice Sheet Meeting Day . Please check for the sign-up sheet here.

Our 3 new Biology tutors started in full force this week! We had one available on Thursday 2/16. YAY! Many thanks to Ms. Crescenzi for prioritizing the interview process once PFLASA decided to move forward and found candidates. Please send your students and keep the tutors busy!

We are still working on hiring an additional Physics tutor. The one we have does an outstanding job, but we want to give him a little help.

In terms of tutoring for Algebra 2, some feedback we got from students is that they simply don’t feel they need help OR they feel they can get it during the school day (like at lunch) or through other resources like videos. No decisions have been made to change our current program in Algebra 2 or Chemistry, but we will keep you all posted if we do.

Parent Presentations Available
Please check out the awesome presentations available to parents here, including the newest posting on “Giving and Understanding Consent: Relationships, Risks, Rights and Responsibilities.” This is the presentation given the Monday night of the “Ice Storm Week.” I look forward to viewing it!

Wellness Committee News
We have many upcoming wellness events for parents:

• A presentation by naturopathic doctor Amy Tyler on March 2 at 7pm at LASA

• Zoom cooking class hosted by LASA parents (planned for the end of March)

• Online interactive recipe project (time frame and format TBD)

• Screening of “Screenagers/Next Chapter” (possibly in April)

• Presentation by Psychologist Dr. Michelle Natinksy: Strategies for Building Life Skills in Teens (scheduled for April 27)

Would you like more information about any of these activities or would you like to be involved? Contact Wellness Committee Chair Nina Miller at

Parent Class Representatives
I promised to talk to you about Parent Class Representatives—who are they and what do they do? So, I am going to share with you a streamlined version of what Geeta Suggs has shared with me. Geeta has been the main coordinator and recruiter for these roles for as long as I have been on the PFLASA board (much longer, no doubt), so she is clearly a good authority. You will see that there is a great reliance on the idea of continuity over time, with one set of volunteers learning from the previous set. So, those who volunteer for these roles should be willing to make a long-term commitment. Of course, the structure may change in coming years, but as of now, this is how the Parent Class Representatives are set up to work.

Join us at our next PFLASA meeting (Feb 24) for an overview of what parent class representatives do and Q & A by Geeta!

PFLASA Parent Class Representatives – A Preview of Roles and Responsibilities
Each grade needs a parent committee of 4-5 parents that can help with events that occur during the year. Most of the roles for this parent committee occur Junior and Senior year. If you sign up for this committee, you are signing up for 4 years. As a class representative, you are expected to lead or co-lead one of three big events for your Senior year. These are: Project Graduation Silent Auction, Project Graduation and Senior Salute. More information about these is provided below. There are also some general communication roles and responsibilities that cut across all 4 years. You will also be a parent liaison for your class Student Council. Student Councils organize 2 social events per year during lunch. Two parents must be present at each event per LASA rules. You may get requests at the last minute that parent reps are needed for an event (which means you can volunteer or find a volunteer).

Each year, current Freshman parents organize the incoming Freshman Orientation with LASA admin starting in April or May. These parents will reach out to incoming parent representatives (who hopefully will be known by May and who will become the Freshman Parent Class Reps the followng year) to organize their volunteers and/or food donations for Freshman Orientation in August.

Sophomore year duties are light. In April, sophomore parents should decide who among their group will chair each of the three big senior event teams: Project Graduation Silent Auction Team, Project Graduation Event Team, and the Senior Salute Event Team. All three of these events work better if there are two leads (co-chairs) for each team. These duties are for TWO years. See below for more details on what is involved.

The Project Graduation Silent Auction Team helps get items for the silent auction and learns how to enter and run the silent auction.

The Project Graduation Event Team meets with the Senior parent team and learns how to do everything for Project Graduation, which is an overnight alcohol and drug-free event. This team also shows up at the event to help. For many years, this event has been done at the Eastside YMCA. If a new venue is ever needed, research would be required as early as possible (see discussion below about Senior Salute).

The Senior Salute Chair meets with Senior parents and LASA admin to plan Senior Salute. These meetings occur during the school day and begin in January or February. Based on likely dates, Junior parents should determine if a venue is already available (for instance, from the prior year) or if a new venue will be needed and conduct research accordingly. The date of graduation will likely be announced the following fall, at which time a contract can be solidified. The Senior Salute Team works the Senior Salute event so Senior parents can enjoy the event with their graduate.

The Project Graduation Silent Auction team manages the team of auction helpers and should start asking for items for the silent auction during the summer. The more items obtained, the more money for Project Graduation Event. The Online Silent Auction usually runs for 3 weeks in November and 1-2 weeks of December and then there is the delivery of items to winners. We have also done a “Mini-Auction” earlier for ACL tickets for the last several years.

The Project Graduation Event team starts meeting in February to plan the night of graduation celebration. They will divide up tasks among all parents on team, plan, and then solicit more volunteers for night of event. PFLASA should inform parents early on that graduation is not on a weekend and that Project Graduation will need many people willing to give time during the work week.

The Senior Salute chair begins meeting with LASA Admin in January or February. He or she assigns tasks to team members, including working with students on the memory book, helping admin interview Master of Ceremonies candidates and following up with the script, reviewing the senior skit material, ordering cookies, etc.

Senior class reps should also work with the Senior Class Student Council officers to continue sponsoring class socials, and to distribute information to the students. This parent group will be a clearinghouse for general information. Urge families to sign on to their class Google Group so they can stay updated.

THANKS FOR READING!!!! Happy Almost Spring!

New Beginnings and Grand Finales

Well, here we are with an “ice day” on the last day of the first month of 2023! Time for another blog post to update you on what has been going on and what is in the works!

We had a delightful PFLASA meeting on January 13th, our first week back, which included a visit from AISD District 2 Trustee Ofelia Zapata. She is eager to hear from parents about what concerns them, so please reach out to her if there is anything you want to share. She is also conducting a series of meetings at schools in her district, which she calls “Lead with Love for our Community and Education” meetings. These are hosted as a way to engage and share information, events and news with District 2 parents & community members. Upcoming meetings are planned for February 14th at Langford Elementary School and March 8th at Blazier Elementary School. You can connect with Trustee Zapata at 512 699-0809.

Our second PFLASA meeting of 2023 (last Friday) was also remarkable for at least two reasons. First, we had Academy Director Andy Paulson talk to us about new student applications (how many have been received, where things are, etc). We really enjoyed the visit! Secondly, and not so positively, the room was FREEZING!!! We all huddled in our coats throughout the meeting. We have asked for help in this regard, so hopefully, if you come to our next meeting on Feb 10th, it won’t feel like you have arrived at the North Pole!

On February 11th, we have our New Parent Coffee, an annual event organized and run by PFLASA, which allows parents of newly accepted students to come and pose any and all questions to parents of current students. No administration or faculty are present. No question is silly or off limits. If you would like to lend your insider knowledge about PFLASA to new parents who may be wondering if the school is a good fit——there are still plenty of spaces available on the volunteer sign up. You know where to go! All of our sign ups are posted at

This event comes on the heels of months of work by staff and volunteers (mentoring, recruiting events like Showcase, pushing out information about applications, evaluating and scoring applications, and so on). Acceptance letters will be mailed out and acceptances posted online by Monday February 6. Families then have about 10 days to accept; the deadline to declare commitment to attending LASA is Feb. 17th. Once that decision has been made, those families whose students are LASA-bound will come in for Choice Sheets on March 4th.

With all this focus on the new students who will soon grace our halls, it might seem like not much is going on with our Seniors. But not so! Co-chairs Elise Su and Nalini Kumar and their team of volunteers have been hard at work planning LASA Senior Salute——the special evening of tribute and fun that traditionally happens the night before graduation and at which LASA students receive their Magnet Endorsement. This year, it will be May 31st. More details will be announced soon!

Our Project Graduation volunteer team has also been busy, lining up activities, initiating the grant application that provides some extra funding for the event and much more. This group, led by co-chairs Maria Elena Ramon and Pete Gallego, will be looking for some lead volunteers for specific activities in the near future, so keep your eyes peeled if you want to get in on the action! Project Graduation, an all night alcohol-free and drug-free party for Seniors on the night of graduation, is a blast. It will be held (again) at the East Communities YMCA , which is a fantastic venue for an event like this——with a pool and lots of space to accommodate all kinds of fun activities! They also give us a super deal to rent the facility. With these events and other Spring celebrations, there is much excitement to be had, as Seniors and their families look forward to the grand finale of all their hard work and, we hope, their fun-filled days at LASA High School.

Meanwhile, we have not forgotten the students in between. The process is underway to hire tutors for Biology and at least one additional Physics tutor. We also continue to think about and gather information regarding how to make the tutoring program as effective as possible. Please stay tuned for updates there. Also, if you would like to help as a parent volunteer with the Tutoring/Study Groups committee (not providing tutoring, but helping with program management and administration), please give me a shout!

Stay warm! Be well! There is still a lot of illness going around. Speaking of staying well, our awesome Wellness committee chair, Nina Miller, has a bunch of things planned for parents this Spring, so be on the look out for those announcements soon.

In February, we make special efforts to appreciate our counselors, resource officers/security monitors and our cafeteria staff. We have parent volunteers who have planned specific activities for all of them, but we can all take the opportunity to think about how these professionals support our students and express our appreciation in our own way!

In my next post, I hope to have some updates on tutoring. I also plan to share some information about Parent Class Representatives (what do they do?), which you may not know much about unless you are one! What are the topics you would like to know more about? Reach me with questions or comments at president at pflasa dot org.

Happy 2023!

Welcome back! Just a few announcements and reminders as we kick off the new year.

Come meet AISD Trustee Ofelia Zapata (District 2) at our upcoming PFLASA meeting this Friday, Jan 13th at the usual time and place. Applications for new LASA students are also due Friday.

Tutoring starts up again Jan 17th after school in Physics, Chemistry and Algebra II. Many students find that tutoring works best if they start coming before they are struggling. Also, we recently got additional space adjacent to the library, just for tutoring, which has helped with noise levels and provided more work space. If this was something that put your student off of tutoring earlier in the year, you may want to suggest they try again!

We are now actively seeking Biology tutors, so please spread the word to LASA alumni and families. Interested candidates can send their resumes to president at pflasa dot org.

Don’t forget that next week is another short week as we are off on Monday, Jan 16th in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Day.

Have a wonderful first week back!

The Winter Break is Upon Us!

It’s Almost A Wrap!
As our students wrap up the fall semester with finals, I bet we are all looking forward to a nice winter break. Whether you and yours are skiing in the Alps or cozying up on your own coach for some cocoa and old movies, or anything in between—I wish you all a happy, healthy and safe conclusion to the year that was 2022!

What We’ve Been Up To
PFLASA organized and helped pay for a wonderful stress-busting event last week. We brought in Tiny Tails To You—a traveling petting zoo! It was a huge success. The kids came to the small gym during their lunch hour, on the day before finals began, to hold and pet bunnies, hedgehogs, chickens, guinea pigs, chicks, tortoises and bearded dragons. They bonded with each other over the tiny creatures and smiles of delight could be seen far and wide.

On the next day, we had our last PFLASA meeting of the year, which was mainly a chance to share yummy treats and chat. There were cookies and pastries, egg dishes and bacon, fruit and cheese, coffee and tea and much more. It was really fun and may become an annual tradition!

PFLASA offered extra tutoring during the finals period and we continue to work on ways to improve the tutoring program. If you think your child needs tutoring in Physics, Chemistry or Algebra 2 but does not attend our after-school sessions, please talk to your student. Then shoot me an email and let me know why he or she does not go. This will help us refine our program to meet students needs. We will consider adding Biology if there is a need, so please email me about that as well if you want to advocate for that and if you have spoken to your kiddo regarding whether he or she would attend. You can email me about this or anything else at “president at pflasa dot org.”

Our Wellness Committee, led by Nina Miller, put together a wonderful parent guide full of fun activities designed to get your student and whole family interacting (and off of screens!). We even got it translated into Spanish (Thank you, Yolanda Torres and team!). Both the English and Spanish versions can be found here, along with other useful information about wellness resources.

Looking Ahead to January
There are several events involving alumni coming up. On Dec 29, at 6 pm, there will be an LASA alumni celebration and reunion, with a special focus on the class of 2013. Contact Cyril Kuhns for more information, or check out the alumni site here.

Also, on Jan 12, the Latino Outreach Committee will host an event for current Latino LASA Juniors and Seniors and parents. The event is a panel discussion with Latino LASA alumni who will share experiences and advice for the high school journey toward planning for college. There will be a question/answer session as well. Email Cristina or Lina at “latinooutreach at pflasa dot org” with questions.

We will have a special guest at our first PFLASA meeting of 2023—AISD Trustee Ofelia Maldonado Zapata! The meeting begins at 8:15 am in Room T102. She will be first on the agenda after our call to order and approval of prior minutes. She will have time for questions and would like to hear from parents. Trustee Zapata represents the area in which LASA High School is located, District 2. You can learn more about her here, and see the District 2 map, which includes many other elementary and several middle schools in addition to LASA.

Looking Even Farther Ahead, Mark Your New 2023 Calendars!
If you are the type who likes to look ahead, here are some of the bigger events that happen in the Spring and generally need parent volunteers and involvement.

• New Parent Coffee (Feb 11)
• Choice Sheets (March 4)
• Teacher Appreciation Luncheon (April, exact date TBD)
• AP Exams (May 1st-12th) (parent proctors are needed and parent volunteers distribute breakfast/snacks to students)
• Coffeehouse (May 12)
• Senior Salute (May 31)
• Project Graduation (overnight on the night of graduation which is June 1 for LASA)

In April/May, we also try to fill our roster for new board members. Our Bylaws dictate that each year, we need a new person to serve as VP (who then serves as President the next year), Assistant Treasurer (who then serves as Treasurer the next year), and Assistant Secretary (who then serves as Secretary the next year). We will also potentially need two Co-Chairs for the Grants Committee. We would love to have commitments in place by mid-April so that we can vote on these by the end of April. We typically evaluate our budget and approve the new year’s budget in May.

If you would like to serve on the board, or be involved in the budget planning, please reach out to me or anyone on the current board. April/May is also the time we would love to have all committee chair and co-chair positions filled for the new year. See this page for a comprehensive list. Some committees already have a chair or co-chairs set for next year but many don’t, so please consider how you might like to help!

Have a safe and happy holiday. See you in 2023!!!

November Notes

What We’ve Been Up To

Can you believe it? November 2022 is drawing to close! Here is a recap of some recent events.

Parents gave out pies and thank you cards on the last Friday before Thanksgiving break—what fun! Thank you, Rebecca Cook, and every parent who donated goodies and time to create a special way to say thank you to our teachers and staff!

LASA Showcase happened on Wednesday (of the same week) and was by all accounts a big success! There was great turnout for the evening program (open to the public for families wanting to check out LASA) and a delicious dinner provided to teachers and staff beforehand. Thank you, Olga Ovcharenko, our Hospitality chair, for organizing the dinner and to all who donated food and helped set up, serve and clean up! Thank you also to Virginia Jones and Bharathi Jana for their tireless efforts to bring all of the Fall LASA recruitment events together, with Showcase being the final big night. Meanwhile, also on the recruitment front, Jayne Rosso, chair of the PFLASA mentoring program, forges ahead. The program, which provides a variety of support to students working on their LASA applications, extends into January. Learn more about the support available here.

A shout out as well is due to Cristina Hernandez and Lina Porras, co-chairs of the Latino Outreach Committee. They hosted an informal potluck social on Día De Los Muertos for LASA’s Latino families. They are planning a second evening event at the end of this month, at which LASA counselors and administration will be on hand to make remarks and answer questions.

Looking Ahead

Looking ahead to December, we will meet on Dec 2nd as usual, but we will conclude our meeting at 9:30 am. If you would like to stay on and help stuff envelopes in the library (for LASA acceptance letters), please stay on! You can sign up here.

In addition, our last meeting of 2022 will be a holiday social. On Dec 16, we will conduct business briefly from about 8:15-8:30 and then hang out and enjoy some refreshments. Please bring some treats to share if you would like. We will supply coffee, tea and juice.

Tutoring and Study Groups

I want to spend the rest of my blog post today talking about tutoring and study groups and other ways your student can get academic support. December means finals, so now is a great time to ensure your student is up to speed on available resources.

PFLASA has a program by which we hire and pay tutors for certain subjects. Currently, tutoring is available in Chemistry, Physics and Algebra II. Tutors are generally available Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4-6 pm in the library, although sometimes there are changes. Encourage your student to listen to announcements and check other references (Blend, LASA Life App, Facebook and Instagram) to be sure the subject in which they want tutoring has not been cancelled on any given day. NOTE: Earlier sessions may be offered during the half days of finals week (December 16-21); please keep an eye on all posting and announcements for details as they become available.

Our tutors are approved by the teachers in each department that teach the subject in which they tutor; they are also in communication with teachers about curriculum, although the amount of involvement varies by teacher.

PFLASA collects numbers on how many students come for tutoring to give us an idea of utilization. It is therefore important that students sign in, so that we know the volume of help being sought. Some students come without specific questions and want to be near a tutor “just in case.” This is awesome! We want those students to sign in as well.

We consider making changes to the tutoring program based on the utilization we can determine. To that end we are looking to hire an additional tutor in Physics, which currently has the most students showing up to receive help, and for which we currently have only one tutor.

We also may make changes based on input from teachers and administration. One input is how students are doing across the board (failure rates) in various subjects. After the first nine weeks of this year, Algebra II stood out as the math class in which the most students are failing, yet our Algebra II tutors have generally received very few students. This is a dynamic we are seeking to better understand. We don’t have plans to hire more Algebra II or other math tutors at this time, until we can better understand the current utilization patterns. In January, we hope to institute a comment QR code, so students can provide feedback regarding their tutoring experience, which may shed some light.

We understand that many parents and students may be concerned about academic performance well above failing. However, in the absence of more nuanced information, failure rates provide a proxy for the subjects in which students are struggling most and utilization provides us the only information we have regarding the level of student interest.

That said, we are open to providing tutoring in additional subjects, if warranted. We would welcome input from parents on this or any other aspect of the tutoring program. Please email me at “president at pflasa dot org” if you have questions or insights to share! I will pass them along as appropriate, and ensure they get to Velvet Hammerschmidt, our chair for this committee.

What Else Is Available?
Your student has many options beyond the PFLASA-sponsored tutors for help. First and foremost, your student should seek out their teacher or a teacher in the same department for office hours to get additional support in a subject or class. If connecting in office hours is difficult for some reason, your student can email the teacher and get help figuring out an alternate plan. Partnering with other students in the same class for self-organized peer tutoring is also a great option.

Some other great resources are also available.

• LASA recently launched a drop-in Writing Center which features 25 peer tutors (all juniors and seniors) “trained and ready to work with students on writing assignments of all kinds.” They are available in the library Monday – Friday at 7:30am, at lunch, and after school (except Friday) until 4:45pm.

• There is also a Math Peer Tutoring resource, organized by the Math Department, that offers help at various levels. The program offers drop-in tutoring available before school and at lunch every day. The peer tutors sign up for these times at their convenience, so the breadth of their expertise differs, depending on who is available. However, all tutors are required to have passed one year of AP Calculus and received the recommendation of their math teacher to participate. The list of these peer tutors is available upon request. Please email me at “president at pflasa dot org” or Ms. Harrelson for more information.

Peer Tutoring in Computer Science is also available. Students can fill out a form to request and arrange tutoring; walk-in peer tutoring is also available in Room 506 on Wednesdays at lunch.

All of these resources and more are described on the LASA website under Students/ Student Support Options. Check out the information here.